Tom Baker, the actor well known for playing the Fourth Doctor in the BBC's long-running science-fiction television series, has spoken of his willingness to consider a return to the series
Baker made his views known during an interview at Collectormania 18, which was held in Milton Keynes over the recent extended UK Bank Holiday weekend.
Asked whether he'd be happy to return to Doctor Who – which is due to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013 – Baker replied, "I think if they ask me nicely or I can see what they want me to do, I’d consider it. I think the fans have been so good to me, they’d expect me to at least make an appearance."
In 1974, at the age of 40, Tom Baker was then the youngest person to play the Doctor. Taking over from Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor, Baker portrayed the Fourth Doctor for a record-breaking seven years.
Now 78, Baker is still strongly associated with the show, with his Doctor often considered to be the most popular ever. The Fourth Doctor's costume included his trademark 14-foot-long Doctor Who multi-coloured scarf, which, along with that Doctor's fondness for eating jelly babies, and despite the fact that Baker left the show over 30 years ago, is still synonymous with the series today.
Doctors in the family
In 1981, Baker handed over the role of the Doctor to Peter Davison – now the father-in-law of Tenth Doctor David Tennant! At 29, Davison was even younger than Baker when he took on the part. However, the current Doctor, Matt Smith, was only 26 when he secured the coveted role.
Since 1963, there have been eleven Doctors. The first, William Hartnell, was followed in 1966 by Patrick Troughton, then Pertwee in 1970. All three are now dead, making Tom Baker the oldest surviving Doctor. Colin Baker succeeded Davison in 1984, and he was followed by Sylvester McCoy in 1987.
Doctor Who was cancelled by the BBC in 1989, although the series continued to be produced in other mediums, most notably as audio plays by Big Finish Productions, under license from the BBC. The show was revived in 1996, when Paul McGann played the Eighth Doctor in a one-off television, but it wasn't until November 2003 that the BBC commissioned a new TV series.
Under the stewardship of Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk), Doctor Who was reshaped for the 21st century. Christopher Eccleston was cast as the Ninth Doctor, making "new" Doctor Who a continuation, not a reboot, of the original series - now often referred to as the "classic series" of Doctor Who.
A few days ago, it emerged that Bill Nighy – often associated with playing the Doctor, though he never has – was actually offered the part. Nighy (pronounced "Nigh") won't confirm when the offer was made, but it is speculated by fans that it was for "new" Doctor Who, in 2004.
Eccleston played the Doctor for only one season, in 2005, handing over to David Tennant that same year. Tennant played the Tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2010. When Davies handed over the stewardship of the series to the current showrunner, Steven Moffat (Sherlock), he cast Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor.
Smith is currently filming his third full season, which is due to air later this year, and is expected to stay on for at least the 50th anniversary season of episodes, too.